An MP for Bristol has been told the removal of the Severn Bridge tolls will boost the economy of South Wales and was not a matter of causing traffic jams.
There is concern the removal of the tolls will lead to significant extra traffic in the Bristol area, while there is also a belief that the Government decided to scrap the tolls without doing detailed modelling of the likely effect on traffic in the area.
In the Commons, MP for Bristol North West Darren Jones asked whether traffic studies should have been undertaken before making the decision but Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom told him, “I hope the honourable gentleman will agree that the purpose of abolishing the tolls was to boost the economy of South Wales by over £100million a year – so he might find that some of his honourable friends wouldn’t agree with him that this was a matter of deliberately trying to cause traffic jams.
“The idea is to save the average motorist over £1,400 per year – that’s good news for the motoring public. Twenty-five million vehicles cross the bridges every year and it is going to be good news in South Wales and for motorists that those tolls are scrapped.”
However the Labour MP told the Bristol Live website, part of the Bristol Post, “It’s clear the government made the decision to lift the tolls before it had the evidence of the impact of the decision.
“I welcome investment in Wales, and support for Labour colleagues in securing that, but this decision should never have been taken until the impact was understood and appropriate investment made to prevent gridlock across north Bristol.”
The website adds that environmentalists, businesses and politicians have warned of gridlock due to the extra 16,000 daily crossings which are predicted to happen once the tolls are abolished at Christmas.